A former FBI explosives expert who investigated high-profile bombings for the bureau over several decades has been arrested and charged with distributing child pornography over unsecured wireless networks using the screen name “pedodave69.”
Donald J. Sachtleben, 54, joined the FBI in 1983 and retired in 2008. Until the Indiana resident’s arrest he was working as an FBI contractor and a visiting assistant professor of forensic sciences at Oklahoma State University.
During his FBI career, Sachtleben served as team leader at the bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and the USS Cole in Yemen, and investigated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing. He also coordinated the search of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s cabin in Lincoln, Mont., even writing Kaczynski’s arrest affidavit, calling removing a live bomb from Kaczynski’s shack “the toughest experience I had.”
According to an affidavit from FBI agent Kerri Reifel, Sachtleben apparently used an unsecured wireless network belonging to a 73-year-old Illinois man to share 220 images of child pornography one night in September 2010 (the FBI obtained a search warrant for the elderly man’s home and found no child pornography on the computers at the residence).
FBI agents later arrested a man who had allegedly traded child pornography with Sachtleben via email. Sachtleben was caught because he allegedly accessed the email address email@example.com from his home. Investigators found 30 child pornography pictures and movies on a Sony laptop he kept in his red Chevy Suburban, which also contained various work files, according to the FBI.
The government believes Sachtleben’s training and background would make him a flight risk, noting that he had spent time in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
“Based upon his training and experience, he would be challenging and dangerous to locate if he was released pending trial and attempted to flee,” federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Joseph H. Hogsett said in a statement that the announcement “should make clear that no matter who you are, you will be brought to justice if you are found guilty of such criminal behavior.